When the Fourth of July comes to mind, the first thing I think of are all the different foods: burgers, brats, hot dogs, cole slaw, potato salad, apple pie, corn on the cob, etc. However, once I went vegan my food options at family cookouts went from seemingly infinite to roughly two: watermelon and butterless corn. I’ve had to bring my own food to any sort of Fourth party I’ve been to in the past four years. But, last year, I discovered a few recipes that I can make on my own that are delicious and will not be scoffed at by non-vegans. I hope this makes every vegan [and fruit and veggie lover] have a great, healthy and patriotic Fourth of July this year. 

Appetizers

Who says the traditional watermelon snack on Independence Day can’t be made fun? I love watermelon and this spicy and grilled take on the sweet treat is the perfect way to turn a rather boring fruit into the perfect mix of sweet, spicy and a hint of barbeque. Just add some watermelon and cayenne powder to your grill and every guest will be happy. 

Chips and dip is a barbecue classic. However, with dairy filled dips and cheese flavored chips the vegan selection is put to a halt. With these dessert chips and strawberry salsa, I’m able to have all the enjoyment of chips and dip but personalized to my dietary needs [and with a slightly healthier twist]. If you’re not in the mood to make the chips or you’re in a rush, you can always substitute with sugar pita chips. Your friends and family won’t even be able to tell the difference when this dish is plated amongst the rest of the non-vegan dips! 

Entrees

I personally was NEVER a hot dog fan. Once I heard that they found rat feces in a certain hot dog brand, I’ve stayed clear of them. Hamburgers, on the other hand, were always a weakness of mine. Now, I do a variety of things to get my burger fix. My absolute favorite are Beyond Burgers with Daiya vegan cheddar cheese. When I’m feeling a bit more experimental, I make portobello mushroom burgers and a recipe that I just found recently [my host dad made these in Spain] are roasted beet burgers. The burger’s pinkish-red color will add a pop of patriotism to any hamburger bun. 

Side dishes

I know I mentioned above that potato salad and coleslaw are barbecue staples, but  I despised the two for the majority of my childhood. Right before I went vegan, however, I tried my grandpa’s potato salad and was absolutely hooked. Since going vegan, I haven’t been able to eat potato salad. Last year at school, I had a potato salad craving [of all things to crave I haven’t the slightest clue as to why I craved potato salad, but I did] and immediately searched google to find the best vegan potato salad. I made four different kinds that night and this one [with its subtle hint of garlic and creamy texture] was my favorite and is now my go-to party side dish. 

Another thing I love are veggie skewers. However, with most veggie skewers comes various meats [steak, sausage, etc.]. These veggie skewers use tofu instead of meat and are marinated in a barbecue sauce which makes them the perfect Fourth of July dish. Put them on the skewers, marinade and barbecue them with everything else on your menu. 

Desserts

My favorite thing about the Fourth [and summer in general] is all of the desserts! Ice cream, s’mores and literally anything with fruit [we love a good ~natural~ source of sugar]! However, ice cream, cakes, cookies, etc. are all filled with eggs, milk and butter [much to the disappointment of vegans everywhere]. Fortunately, I’ve found two desserts that are a great way to cool off on a hot summer day that are also red, white or blue [one is all three ;)] which will make the perfect Instagram worthy photo [because let’s be honest, what’s a party without a social media post?]. 

These firecracker pops are your traditional take on the classic Rocket Pop popsicle [cue the childhood nostalgia] but are made of fruit and plant-based milk rather than dairy products. Savor every last lick of these sweet pops after you’ve hopped out of the pool or are waiting for the fireworks shows to start!

If you prefer ice cream scoops to popsicles, this sorbet is just what you need. Instead of an ice cream maker, all you need are frozen fruits and their complementary flavors [i.e. strawberry and basil] and a food processor. I love making this with frozen bananas and cocoa powder because it’s got the texture and flavor of ice cream, but it’s all fruit!

When it comes time to gather with friends and family [especially when food is the focal point] it can be nerve-wracking for those of us who choose to live a vegan lifestyle. However, more and more recipes are being created and shared that turn our favorite non-vegan dishes into ones made complete dairy- and meat-free! Share your recipes with us on Instagram. [Tip: even if you’re not vegan, try one of these recipes this Fourth of July. We promise, you won’t regret it and you won’t even be able to tell the difference!]

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